Carson Weitnauer lists Six Easy Ways to Add Apologetics to Your Sermons, fleshed out on his blog, Reasons for God:
1. Explain the historical context of the passage.
2. Compare and contrast Christianity with other worldviews and religions.
3. Ask questions.
4. Talk about clues.
5. Discuss the explanatory power of the Christian worldview.
6. Share a story about your doubt and its resolution.
He Came to Us: To all of us, preached by Redeemer’s head elder, Jim Applegate, is a good example of almost all six items listed above.
1. Questions. Jim reiterates these types of questions throughout the sermon:
Have you ever felt like you weren’t wanted?…that you are alone?…on the outside looking in?…never a part of the group?…everyone gets it but you? Jim opens up with his own experiences that everyone can relate to.
Later, Jim asks, “How can the Gospel be for ALL of us?”
Answer: It’s not about your behavior, or anything else about you. It’s about the character of Jesus. Love with no condition.
2. Sharing story of doubt and resolution. Have you ever had so many questions, but were too afraid to ask? Jim explains at various times in the sermon how he and everyone can relate to that. None of us feel like we are totally “in”. He leads in to introducing the resolution. The Gospel of Mark is written to outsiders and shows Jesus came not just for insiders, but to all of us.
3&4. Historical context and worldview contrast of Jews and Gentiles.
Jews: God’s chosen people of 12 tribes, going back to the Old Testament. God spoke to them, through prophets and ceremonies like the Passover, about what he was going to do in the Messiah. Some Jews recognized that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament—it all began to click and come together for them. They were the insiders. Jews who didn’t get it were the outsiders.
Gentiles: Everybody else. In Mark: the Romans. Different worldview altogether. The Romans had no historical context to get why Jesus had arrived on the scene. He would have been just another king trying to dominate them. Whereas the Jews had the dot-to-dot of the Old Testament, the Romans had a blank sheet of paper. They were the outsiders.
The Gospel of Mark shows outsiders that Jesus didn’t only come to insiders (the Jews who “got it”), but also to outsiders (the Jews who didn’t get it, and the Gentiles).
5. Clues. Jim talks about clues that Mark was writing to outsiders.
Clue 1: Mark used the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, so that they could understand.
Clue 2: He translates cultural differences. Mark 5:41, he explains “Tabitha koum!” means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Mark 7:1, he explains to outsider-Gentiles that the Jews wash hands before they eat.
Mark is saying, “I want you to understand. I want you to get it.”
* Jesus came so that we can ALL discover. Mark wrote this down so that everyone in the Roman world, and their children and grandchildren, could discover God’s goodness.
* Jesus came so that we can ALL understand—not just follow him blindly. You don’t get these ceremonies and feasts? I’m going to take a little extra time to explain them to you, add some dots on your blank sheet, because I want you to understand. This is for everyone.
* Jesus came so that we can ALL delight. Never mind surface issues. Because Jesus showed God’s unconditional acceptance, the deepest issues of your heart are resolved. You’re not standing outside the dance alone anymore. He will come out to you and walk in there with you. Delight in that!
Jesus came to break us free, insiders and outsiders, from finding acceptance in things that don’t last. His unconditional acceptance is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
This post is Part 2 of 4. My church, Redeemer Modesto, is doing a four-part Christmas series on Jesus’ birth, focusing on one Gospel each week, with the theme of “He Came to Us” throughout each sermon: